Carroll County News

Children delve into new worlds with free books

A new book can transport a child to another world — be it a world where werewolves control society or one where a teddy bear can search for his buttons alone in the dark. The organizers of Carroll Community College's annual Penguin Random House Book Fair provided an opportunity Saturday for all children in attendance to experience a new adventure in the form of a free book.

At the event, shoppers could browse among 2,000 titles for sale for 20 percent off their cover price. Upstairs, above the main shopping hall, was a free-book room, where children could come and take away any one book of their choice. Options included classic franchises like "The Poky Little Puppy," "Thomas the Tank Engine," "Sesame Street" and "The Worst Witch," as well as newer fads like "Frozen," "Dora the Explorer" and "The Princess and the Frog." Original books included "Bears in Beds" and "Finklehopper Frog."


Some of the books were more popular among children than among parents. Many children picked up a copy of Leslie Patricelli's "Toot" — with lines such as "I toot in the tubby/It comes out all bubbly" — before being guided to something with less flatulent flair.

Hunter Goldstein, 3, chose a "Thomas the Tank Engine" book for his free selection. After picking out the book, he, and his father, Nick, read it together in the lobby. Nick Goldstein said reading is a major pastime in his family's house.


"My daughter can't read enough," Goldstein said. "Together, the three of us probably read two to three books a day, and the kids peruse other books during their free time. They just love to read."

The book fair is the second-largest fundraiser for the college, behind the annual Starry Night Gala, according to Carroll Community College Foundation Executive Director Steve Wantz.

Wantz said organizers were expecting more than 4,000 people to attend the fair throughout the weekend. In addition to the book sales, the event featured a silent auction, STEM activities, a "Frozen" singalong and story times presented by the Carroll County Public Library.

Downstairs, folks shopped for books in every genre, as diverse as science fiction, biographies, self-help books to romance novels. The sheer volume of titles and limited space made for some odd bedfellows with Henry Kissinger's "World Order" leaning up against Jill Lepore's feminist history of Wonder Woman, and copies of Japanese "Batman" comics sharing table space with Deepak Chopra. In the nonfiction section, shoppers could learn to compost and how to make their own toys — presumably not at the same time.

In the children's section, a table of biographies allowed youths the opportunity to learn about a diverse collection of historical figures, including Rosa Parks, Jim Henson and Bruce Lee.

RJ Oostveen, 11, said he was attending the book fair on the lookout for some of his favorite series of books, including the "Squish" series of graphic novels about an anthropomorphic amoeba attending microscopic high school. He said he was able to pick up a volume he hadn't read yet at the fair.

"I'm really into collecting and reading books. I've got all of the 'Origami Yoda' books from the first one to the most recent ones," RJ said. "I like chapter books and fiction books, and on occasion I'll read nonfiction. I really like the 'Percy Jackson' series. Reading is just amazing. It's fun; it's imaginative. It's just inspiring."

Reach staff writer Jacob deNobel at 410-857-7890 or